Australian Open Men's outright predictions: Djokovic can justify favouritism
- Nine-time champion Novak Djokovic returns having been forced to miss the event last year
- Recommended bets:
- Back Novak Djokovic to win
It was Rafael Nadal who rose to the top at last year's Australian Open, capitalising on the absence of Novak Djokovic and winning the first of two Grand Slam titles he picked up in 2022 to take his overall tally to 22.
Nadal has been given the top seed going into the 2023 edition but faces plenty of competition in the first Grand Slam of the season, particularly with Djokovic returning to the hard courts in Melbourne.
For the second year running, however, the world number one will not be at the Australian Open with US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz having been forced to pull out due to injury.
Tough to oppose in-form Djokovic
The Serbian missed out last year in Melbourne and upon his return to Grand Slam action, reached the quarter-finals of the French Open when he was stopped by 'King of Clay' Nadal, who went on to lift his 14th title.
But at Wimbledon, Djokovic looked back to his best, crowned for the seventh time at the All England Club with victory over Nick Kyrgios in the final.
That success was followed by titles in Tel Aviv and Astana as well as a triumph at the end-of-year ATP World Tour Finals.
This year has also started brightly for Djokovic, who won the first running of the Adelaide International and will be especially motivated to match Nadal's tally of 22 Grand Slam titles when he takes to the Melbourne hard courts, where he has won nine times before.
Casper Ruud looks the most dangerous player in Djokovic's half of the draw as far as the seeding is concerned but it is hard to look past the Serbian coming up trumps down under again.
It is perhaps worth noting that world number three Ruud is only second favourite at 9/2 to win his quarter, with Taylor Fritz, ranked ninth, seen as a more likely potential semi-final opponent for Djokovic at 2/1.
Youngster Korda can show his class
Djokovic is a fair frontrunner in the betting for this year's Australian Open but there is still value to be had lower down in the outright market.
Nadal will attract some attention but has made a poor start to 2023 with back-to-back defeats in the United Cup, while last year's runner-up Daniil Medvedev will be determined to come back with a bang.
But for each-way value, punters could do worse than back young American Sebastian Korda.
Runner-up to Carlos Alcaraz in the 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals, Korda has been steadily improving in the last 18 months or so and showed plenty of promise on the indoor hard courts when making the final of the European Open back in October.
Korda's start to 2023 has also been promising with the American recording some big wins over Andy Murray, Roberto Bautista Agut and Jannik Sinner on the way to the final of the recent Adelaide International.
Djokovic got the better of Korda in that final but the American won the first set of that clash and held his own.